Etiquette & Languages

Etiquette and Languages observes how people relate to each other through behaviors and speech. Find information on topics like tipping, sign language, good manners and slang.

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Like English, Spanish is a global language with nearly 600 million Spanish speakers worldwide. There are many Spanish-speaking countries, from the 21 nations with Spanish as their official language, to other countries with significant populations of people who speak Spanish as their native language or as a second language.

By Karina Buggy

You may have noticed people sometimes interchange grey and gray, leading to confusion about which spelling is the correct one. But when it comes to using the word grey vs. gray, which one you choose comes down to your location and the specific person, place or thing you’re referencing.

By Marie Look

Many struggle over what to say when someone dies. Comforting a loved one during a difficult time can be hard, especially if you can't express your condolences in person. Here are our suggestions.

By Alia Hoyt


English may be the most spoken language in the world, but it wasn't always. So who started speaking it first?

By Ad Putter

Social media platforms use algorithms to flag and remove problematic material. "Algospeak" is the workaround and it's broadly influencing everyday language.

By Roger J. Kreuz

Ever wondered why the first month of the year is called January? Or why September comes from the Latin word for seven when it's the ninth month? Here's how each month got its name.

By Carrie Tatro

Henry Louis Gates Jr. will serve as editor-in-chief of the new Oxford Dictionary of African American English, which is slated to be published in spring 2025.

By Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.


In recent years, the word "demisexual" was added to dictionaries, while "aerodrome" was dropped. But just who is making these lexicographical decisions?

By Laurie L. Dove

Victorian etiquette wasn't just about sending a thank you note or holding a door open. There were a jillion rules of propriety to observe. How many of these do you know?

By Alia Hoyt

In this age of electronic communication, the art of letter writing has all but been lost, but the knowledge necessary to address an envelope is something we all should certainly possess.

By Francisco Guzman

At-thay epends-day on-way at-whay ou-yay ean-may y-bay eal-ray.

By Kristen Hall-Geisler


You know that time in summer when everything slows down and not much is going on? The German word sommerloch neatly sums it up. But where did it come from?

By Dave Roos

The majority of Native Americans speak the English language, so how many Native American languages are still in existence and being spoken today? It's a complicated question.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Sign language interpreters provide critical lifelines to the deaf community, especially during crises. So who exactly are these superhero signers?

By Stephanie Vermillion

Xenophobia, or the fear of immigrants and strangers, has a long, unsettling history in the U.S. and across the globe. What makes this prejudice so prominent during hard times throughout history?

By John Donovan


And it's expressions like 'fake news' (instead of information fallacieuse) and 'cool! that are to blame.


The two terms are often used interchangeably, though they have distinct meanings. We'll explain how they're different.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Our daily language is often geared for a world that recognizes people as either male or female. But with our growing recognition that not everyone falls into these categories, how can we speak more gender-inclusively?

By Danielle Douez

Over the holidays, lots of gift-giving will be going on. But some people get anxious about opening a gift in front of the giver in case they don't like it and can't fake enough enthusiasm.

By Alia Hoyt


How did this natural tic become the signal for so many social expressions?

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

And everyone used it, not just the local deaf community.

By Kate Kershner

Rudeness is not just a personal annoyance. It can actually affect health and safety. Why is that? And why do we replay a rude interaction over and over in our heads?

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

It doesn't get more awkward than the check arriving and no one knows who's paying for what. Is it rude to expect birthday guests to pay for their own meal?

By Alia Hoyt


Middle names aren't a purely modern invention, so why do we still have them?

By Laurie L. Dove

What does Boston have against the letter R? Why do Minnesotans sometimes drag out the 'O' sound? And what about the Noo Yawk accent?

By Mark Mancini